Finding those perfect secluded camp spots
For us the enjoyment of camping depends entirely on finding the right spot - though often a challenging task, it is certainly worth the extra effort. While everyone has their own preference (be it on a beach or in the mountains), it’s fair to assume that most want to get away from the crowds. We generally aim for a well spaced forest beside a river or lake, and while we’re not going share our secret spots with you, we will tell you how to find your own.
The general rule is that you should camp at least 500m from roads or trails, which is fairly easy in New Zealand with huge tracts of empty bush to explore. But first up, check if the land you’re intending to explore is public land. If you’re in New Zealand you can do that with this handy map here.
Once you’re clear that you are allowed to camp there, it’s time to find your perfect spot. It’s worth considering how far you want to drive and then how far you are willing to walk from your car as this will be the biggest restriction on where you can go. Think also about the landscape you’re looking for because New Zealand is blessed with the whole lot - rainforests, beaches, mountains, rivers and more. This should all help you narrow down the rough area of your camping spot.
And now the fun part, We’ve spent hours scanning topographical maps to find the the perfect terrain that would be conducive for the perfect camp. It doesn't hurt that we quite enjoy looking at maps. Again, if you’re in New Zealand you can take a look here.
If you zoom right in to the area you are interested in, there’s a few key things you want to search for. Firstly, look for somewhere that the contour lines (the little red lines) are spread far apart from each other. This indicates that the terrain won’t have too much of a slope and you’re more likely to find some flat ground. Secondly, aim for a spot where the green of the bush meets white or light green to indicate that there is a clearing but still has the benefits of some shelter from the trees. Finally, a source of water makes camping a lot more enjoyable, so make sure there is a river, lake or tarn nearby.
We want to add that you should always respect the privilege of camping in the bush or away from established campsites. Leave the spot as you found it with no trace of your stay.